Association Fees

January 30  
Passing through a room in the house, where the television was tuned into the HGTV channel, there was  a home buying show on and I heard the gentleman looking for a house inquire, "What are the association fees?"
Do those same thoughts cross the minds of individuals contemplating a relationship with Christ?

They certainly did for the disciples.  The Message states in John 6:60-67, which is titled
 "Too Tough to Swallow"
Many among his disciples heard this and said, "This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow." Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, "Does this throw you completely? What would happen if you saw the Song of Man ascending to where he came from?  The Spirit can make life.  Sheer muscle and willpower don't make anything happen. Every word I've spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this." (Jesus knew from the start that some weren't going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.)  He went on to say, "This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father."
After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: "Do you also want to leave?"

Jesus was honest that there are costs to following him, but also some eternal perks!

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  2 Timothy 3:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of light."  John 8:12

Jesus answered him, Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.  Luke 23:43

Let's be honest with ourselves.  Are we willing to pay the association fees that come with a life lived boldly for Christ or do we look for the places to live that don't cost as much?

Beth Moore

January 29

Our daughter called, asking if we wanted a laugh. It was nap time for her 1 and 2 year olds and she was taking advantage of the time resting as well.  While resting she heard a woman's voice and couldn't figure out what it was, knowing she hadn't left the TV on.  Looking over at one of the room monitors she could see her 2 year old with her iPod, which she plays music on for nap time. He had scrolled down the music selections, but landed on a Podcast of a Beth Moore Bible teaching.
We laughed, as my prayers have been intense the past couple weeks for us to be intentional in training up the next generation to love the Lord. What a great idea!  Put your children to be listening to Bible Study Podcasts!

Start children off the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Come Away

January 28
At 6AM the call came.  "Come away with me to a quiet place and I will show you great and mighty things."  But Lord,  It's only 12 degrees outside, can't we do this right here in  my cozy bed.  Opening my eyes I checked to see if I was missing an amazing sunrise, but all was dark.  The whisper came again.  By seven I chose to succumb to obedience and put on my Uggs and my bathrobe, poured a cup of amazing hot tea, which our daughter had mailed me from Minneapolis the other day, turned on the fire and ventured around the house with camera in hand, looking for the ultimate in quiet spots!
Standing at the dining room window, I wondered if the giant blue heron was going to appear, but my real hope was to see the bear that was supposedly roaming in our area.
I began singing praise to the Lord and the refrain which came, humbled me and changed my perspective on the hunt.

"When will you learn my child that there is none greater than Me?"

God wasn't getting me up for some grand nature event. He was getting me up to come away with him to a quiet place to study His Word, so he could teach me great and mighty things.  So dear friends, I'm off!
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of Your heart.
Psalm 37:4

I keep waiting for the bear to knock at the door!  :-)  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  Genesis 18:14

Snow Days

Snowman craftiness by a couple of our grandchildren.
January 27
The beauty of a snow day brings me delight! (So does the fact school is usually out!)  I will pass up a winter trip to Florida to stay home, if I think snow is coming!  Last week we received enough snow to close school!  Our VA Beach family was the recipient of God's white coating as well.  I had mailed all our grandchildren snowman sticker kits (which are seen in the middle of this photo).  Our daughter in law also came up with some clever tongue depressed skiing snowmen!
The question came to my mind…is there a snow storm story in the Bible. Jesus never needed skis in his part of the country!  All the references, which were coming to mind, related to being "washed as white as snow" from sinfulness.
There is David's exhalation in 2 Samuel 23, of one of his warriors, which I'd love to know more of the story: Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
Actually, in the NIV there are 22 references to snow, but the one captivating my heart this morning is:

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:9-11 

H.A.C.K. #4

January 25-26 into life through Hospitality, Acts of Service, Compassion and Kindness.

Oh, my…it's Saturday morning again and time to reflect on my week.  Conviction sets into my heart as I take this time to reflect on what my heart attitude was during the week.  This week was unusual in that due to MLK Day, a little snow and extreme frigid temperatures, my husband was home from his work as the Head of a private school, for three days.  Hmm, were we kind and compassionate to others or just laid back and lazy.

We did venture out one day and take our pastor and his wife to lunch, which ended up being a huge blessing to us.

As I look back at how the week unfolded the phrase "unexpected gifts" comes to mind.  A sweet friend  has been sick for six days, so it was a  joy to get to drop soup and bread off at her house. Having to make a doctor's appointment myself, the receptionist asked for my birthdate and exclaimed, "That's my birthday too!"  So I took her a gift when I went to the doctor's office, calling her my birthday buddy. She was elated. My only regret is that I did not include a scripture verse.  This is a relationship I want to build and hope to send random gifts and cards to her throughout the year.
In excitement  over the snow, one of our grandsons called to FaceTime!  His first request was for me to send him one of those disposable phones.  I was tempted! He and I could talk into the wee hours of the morning!  His second request was for me to go immediately and buy him a couple transformer toys.  I ended up ordering them on Amazon and sending his little sister a gift too. Again, right back at cha!  Such joy filled my heart seeing their happiness.
Those are not real tattoos…just his mom's return address stamp!  :-)

We can be the recipients of a most "unexpected" and "undeserved" gift.  His name is Jesus and he is free for the taking!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 

What Makes You Squawk?

January 24
The Canadian geese arrived in our cove in early fall, as they do every year. While they are beautiful to watch flying in their "V" formation,  it does make a mess in your yard when 50 of them descend.  The other night they must have been sleeping in our yard when a predator pounced in upon their flock. I've never heard such squawking!  There were no geese remains in the yard the following day, so they either all escaped or whomever captured one, took it to the woods for a midnight meal.

The incident caused me to consider…What makes us squawk and cry out?  Definitely, like the geese, fear.  What makes us open our mouths and squawk truth in the spiritual sense, when others may be silent.  Below are two dynamic verses to spur us on to squawk for Jesus and against the sin of a friend.

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night and day difference he made for you-from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.  1 Peter 2:9-10

Live creatively, friends.  If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself.  You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out.  Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.  Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.   Galatians 6:1

The Photo Shoot

January 23
(Be sure to see the link at the end.)
Our attempt at a Valentine photo shoot for our daughter's sons was a bust. When a two year old gets in his mind he is not going to cooperate, there's not a whole lot you can do.  We forgot to PRAY!

The next day when this attitude started to creep in again, I reflected on Proverbs 15:30, which I shared with him….
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to bones.
Also, I tossed in Be joyful always!  (1 Thes. 5:16)

In his grumpy state he first said, "God did not say that!" Well, maybe he was trying to catch me on a technicality there….Solomon wrote the Proverb and Paul exhorted the believers to "Be joyful always," but both were inspired by God and found in God's Word!  I showed him a couple of his grumpy pictures and explained how sad they made me feel.  Some ground was gained, because throughout the day, he would look at me and give me a big smile. At that point I'd say, "Your smile makes me so happy!"  Yup, it gives health to my bones.

Is this what we look like to God when we forget the source of our joy and get grumpy?
(These are posted with parental permission! He's still beautiful, even when in a mood!
I think that's the conclusion God, in his unconditional love,  comes to with us as well.)

God has just rocked my world. I had the idea to do this post five days ago. Waited and asked my daughter's permission.  Then wrote it up this morning and posted it. Afterwards I went to open emails and found this Godtube….it goes along perfectly with this post titled Photo Shoot.  I hope it blesses your day. It's powerful.


From Shiloh with Love
January 22
Sometimes I sense the Spirit giving me a word that just seems to hang on and on in my mind.  Yesterday, the word was restoration. It popped up in the Gideon study I'm presently participating in, in regards to the Cycle of Redemption which the Israelites repeated and repeated.
1) Rejection of God's way
2) Decline of God's people
3) Consequences allowed by God's hand
4) Restored relationship to God's presence

When this reoccurrence of a word happens I do two things.  I investigate the dictionary definition and I plugged the word into to inquire if the Lord wants to teach me something scripturally about that word.  Sometimes there is another word from the definition that gets tossed into the Biblical Word search as well.  This process thrills my heart every time!

The Bible study group I'm in shared prayer requests and many of those requests related to the desire for restoration of relationships, faith, joy, health, etc.

Check out the definition from Merriam Webster:
:the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
:the act of bringing back something that existed before
:the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

Now let's personalize those and see where restoration needs to occur in our own lives.
Take the investigation a step further as these scriptures penetrate your heart.  Be restored!  It's God's best for your life.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen   1 Peter 5:9-11

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in tis way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something they are not, they deceive themselves.   Galatians 6:1-3

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways so that sinners will turn back to you.  Psalm 51:11-13

The word return jumped out to me in the definitions and I thought….Return to your First Love!

The Lord God Almighty, the Lord is his name!  But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.   Hosea 12:5-7

What great nuggets to carry into today!

But You Have Not Listened to Me

Whoops…the combo of grandbaby love and Bible Study girlfriends caught me off guard and the devotional didn't get posted.  Life happens!

January 20-21
Studying Gideon, I keep learning and learning and learning.
I said to you, "I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live." But you have not listened to me.  Judges 6:10

The words "you have not listened to me" rang in my mind over and over.  "Show me Lord, where I haven't listened," I inquired.  It was the 15th of January, so I opened Proverbs 15 and was convicted by the ways I had failed to listen to the wisdom God has imparted.  Times when I wanted to shout…"Life isn't fair."  Times when I went forward on self-sufficiency, not godly counsel.

Lord, help me remember You are sovereign and You tell us:

Proverbs 15
: 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath
: 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge
: 3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
: 4 The discerning heart seeks knowledge
:17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred
:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
:26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.
:27  A greedy man brings trouble to his family
:29 The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayers of the righteous
:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to bones.

Flipping to Psalm 15 I checked out what was on David's mind.
Psalm 15 (NIV)
Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has not slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man, but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money with usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. he who does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15  The Message
God, who gets invited to dinner at your place?  How do we get on your guest list?  "Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable.  "Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe.  You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this."  

 I want to listen to the Lord and live like that.

H.A.C.K. #3

January 18-19 into life through Hospitality, Acts of Service, Compassion and Kindness!

This weekend reflection time, on my week, is an excellent accountability tool.  With grandsons here, I have not left the house since their arrival Tuesday.  While I assume baby sitting qualifies as an act of service and offering hospitality, and it definitely requires offering compassion and kindness, I want to be intention in teaching these requests of the Lord to my grandchildren.  So, today we will H.A.C.K around!

Our daughter did offer an amazing act of service to the women of our church, who came here for a bowl of soup and a chance to hear her share about the longing of her heart and a mini concert on her harp.

Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.   Psalm 33:2

Sin Less

January 17
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

The word sinless has been popping in my head the past few days.  The impetus for this action most likely stems from the desire, due to being in the Word, to sin less in my life.  While we will not be sinless this side of heaven, it's certainly a worthwhile goal.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

The word righteous appears 493 times in the NIV, but there is none righteous except the Lord. Righteousness is a worthwhile pursuit and a characteristic God looks for in his servants.

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.   2 Timothy 2:22

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.  
Proverbs 11:6

Lord, today we surrender to Your Spirit, asking You to create in us pure hearts;  to strengthen us to flee the evil desires of our youth and put us on a path to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen

The Postcards

January 16

Dwelling on Priscilla Shirer's reminder in her study on Gideon, that it only took one generation to forget the Lord and what he had done for Israel, has been a cattle prod moment for me.  A "get going Mama Boo" reality check.
While God is stirring some bigger impact ideas in my heart, there has been one project I put into gear immediately.  The postcard project.  I asked our daughter in law if our oldest grandson, who attends a Christian school, has weekly memory verses.  He does and she took a picture of this month's verses, which are posted at their house.  Twice a month, I will attempt to mail a postcard with a comment and encouragement to spur he and his sister on, as they place God's Word in their hearts.  I'm also praying for the mail lady, who delivers these postcards, to take a sneak peek!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  
                                                                                                                                Hebrews 4:12

Tonight I sat doing an "app" with one of our two year old grandsons called "Bible Heroes". It is a free app and really holds a child's attention, while imparting excellent information about heroes of our faith.

Work to be Done

January 15
The Bible Study I am presently apart of is studying the life of Gideon, through a Priscilla Shirer DVD.
I was haunted by this verse in Judges 2:10:
Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel.

"It just took one generation for the breakdown and collapse of God's people group." Priscilla Shirer

If you study the book of Judges, you learn about the 7 cycles of rebellion.  The NIV states that Israel, God's chosen people,  did what was evil in the sight of the Lord AGAIN…and again and again.  God in his mercy sent a deliverer again and again and again.  Shirer explains the role of judges in that day.  "They were called by God and empowered by God to unite the people of God to stand against the enemies of God."

As the Body of Christ are we uniters?   Do we recognize the enemy loves division and the weakness it reveals and uses that as an opportunity to destroy churches and relationships between believers?

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Ephesians 6:11

Where is our intentionality in teaching the next generation about Jesus?

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next gene ration, your mighty acts to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18

As I combine this question with Billy Graham's thoughts on finishing well as we "Near Home," I can see we all have work to do!

More From Nearing Home

Our cross in the woods.
January 14
When I was having my "check me out of life please" day the other day, I picked up Billy Graham's book Nearing Home and snuggle down on the couch with a blanket to finish this book, taking notes as I went.
This book is a wealth of wisdom.  You feel the love of this man for his family, his wife (who has gone on ahead of him to heaven) and of course for the Lord.

A prudent man gives thought to his steps.
Proverbs 14:15

Graham poses the following question, which is worth a lot of thought:
"How can we build our lives on a solid and unshakable foundation-one that will undergird us the rest of our days?"  He writes the phrase
Nearing Home with Triumphant Expectation
"While our society may not believe that growing old is a respectable phase of life, my prayer is that believers in Jesus Christ will walk the last mile of the way triumphantly, as Moses did when he died at age 120....The older generation may have a hard time keeping up with the younger, but let's remember that has long as we are still breathing, we are leading the way.  The generations that follow are learning about growing old from us."  Billy Graham

We must take advantage of teachable moments.  I'm blessed to have a couple grandchildren around for the next week.  While cookie, cupcake and tent making are high on my to do list, along with treasure hunts, hide and seek, and playing make believer, I need to be intentional about the investment of my time with these little ones and teach them about Jesus.  Putting scripture into their hearts is much more valuable than a Mary Poppins, spoonful of sugar!

On A Tough Day

An afternoon winter moon.
January 13
Do you ever have one of those days, where life carries such a load that you just want to drop it all and quit?  Last week I had one of those.  Every call that came, a couple emails and a text were all heavily laden and involved situations I had absolutely no control over.  (Death, health, legal banking matters.)
One particular situation, where I had agreed to give prayer support, had brought me to a stand still!
Ah, stand stills are good when they bring you standing before God and that is exactly where I was.

A friend had given me Sarah Young's devotional book, Jesus Today.  I was a couple days behind in my readings and picked it up and on three sequential days God provided amazing wisdom for me to pass along to the one I was praying for and to apply to my own life as well.

Be encouraged by Young's words, which she writes from the voice of Christ.

"I want you to love Me, listen to My voice and hold fast to Me-for I am your Life."

"I'm training you to stay close to Me as you walk along perilous paths."

"The world is full of dangers, so it is wise to hold tightly to My hand."

"The key to steadiness in your life is to set Me always before you."

"Many distractions will vie for your attention along the way, but I am the Guide who is continually before you.  So keep looking ahead to Me. See Me beckoning you on step by step by step."

"This world in its fallen condition can never satisfy you fully.  You yearn for perfection and I am the fulfillment of that deep longing."

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore!
Psalm 16:11

H.A.C.K. #2

January 11-12 into life through Hospitality, Acts of Service, Compassion and Kindness!

A group of us gathered to make snowflakes to hang on bare trees forming centerpieces for a luncheon we were attending.  The extra snowflakes were placed on cards to be turned into notes of cheer (acts of kindness) to give away to others.  Can't wait to hear where all those snowflakes flew to.

My act of service/hospitality came knocking at my door!  The doorbell rang and there stood a single gentleman, neighbor with is lime tree!  He explained he was heading off to Australia and New Zealand for two months, on his "bucket list" trip, and didn't want his lime tree to die and was hoping I would care for it.  Can't say that I am the best "plant manager," but I agreed to give it a go.  Another neighbor chuckled and said, I should find a way to attach large limes to the plant when he returns, so he will think God grows BIG limes here at Shiloh!

The offering of compassion will remain unspoken, but I do want to share the devotional from Lloyd John Ogilvie's book Quiet Moments with God, which brought strength to the recipient.
I hope it goes into your "useful tools" pile.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Ogilvie writes:
"Thank You, Father, for receiving me as I am with unqualified grace. Thank You for the strength, security, and serenity You provide in the midst of strain and stress. To know You is my greatest privilege, and to grow in the knowledge of Your will is my greatest need.  My plans and ways are insufficient; bless me with Your eternal strength and wisdom. My vision is incomplete; bless me with Your hope.
Thank You for enabling me to make the most of this day.  Empower me to emulate Your faithfulness in my responsibilities and relationships today. May I be a person of whom others can depend. Help me to say what I mean and mean what I say, I want each decision to be guided by You. Give me light when my vision is dim, courage when I need to be bold, decisiveness when it would be easy to equivocate, and courage when others are tempted to be discouraged."

Once again as I look back on my week, I received HACKing as well!  Thank You God for all you provide!


January 10
I must have been having a junior high school dream and this silly cheer was the subconscious thought that brought forth the spirit filled cheer to which I awakened.
The silly one from my cheerleading past went something like this:
Boys got the power, the teachers got the brains, but the girls got the pretty legs to win this game!

The Spirit whipped up this one!

God's got the power, Jesus is our friend and the Holy Spirit guides of through thick and thin!

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  John 16:13

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  John 14:26  

God's Word is certainly something to cheer about!


Remembrance is a Gift

January 9
A dear friend mailed me Billy Graham's book, Nearing Home, when my father died. I'm just getting around to reading it and don't want to put it down.  SO MUCH WISDOM!
The first chapter is titled: Running Toward Home and holds this quote of which the author is unknown:
"The gift of old age is remembrance."
The chapter takes you into some incredible scriptures about remembrance.

Remember all the ways which the Lord your God has led.   Deuteronomy 8:2
Remember…hold it fast.   Revelation 3:3
Remember and do all My commandments. Numbers 15:40
Remember the word…of the Lord.   Joshua 1:13
Remember His marvelous works which he has done.  1 Chronicles 16:12

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches
Because You have been my help.
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You,
Your right hand upholds me.   Psalm 63:6-8

Take time to remember the ways the Lord has led you, how He has held fast to you, and the marvelous works He has done for you.
Remember and recite His commandments and some of his Word which you have engrained upon your hearts.

"Remember that as a faithful child of God, you await promotion."
Vance Havner

A Safe Landing

January 8
Our daughter, Jiewon, spent 24 hours in the Detroit airport with 1,000s of other passengers Monday night.  After sitting on a plane waiting for take off for four hours, they finally allowed the passengers to get off and purchase something to eat.  They had them wait around four more hours before telling them to return in seven hours.  Gathering back at the gate at 7AM yesterday, the airline told the passengers they would bring in another plane and leave in nine more hours!  The Arctic Vortex took a toll on travelers this week, but God was still with them.

We prayed off and on with her during this escapade and told her to make a new friend. She said that was easy…the whole plane bonded!

"God has not promised you smooth sailing, but He has promised you a safe landing. He has a purpose in allowing every circumstance into your life. You can bank on this: He'll see you to the shore in every storm of life."  Adrian Rogers

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

Unnecessary Stress

January 7
The past two days I have brought unnecessary stress into my life.  I watched the season premier of Downton Abbey Sunday night and turned off the TV totally frustrated by the hateful antics of one Thomas Barrow. Then last night I watched the National Football Championship game, which our youngest son was attending in Pasadena, until the point of nausea from the stress.  His team lost in the last minute.

I'm just not cut out for controversy and competition with emotional attachments.  I thought of our German Baptist friends who don't have TV's in their homes and see great benefit for my life in that discipline.  Now I am in no way condemning the rest of my family and friends who enjoy the drama and suspense of such things, but for me I think I will stick to the Hallmark Channel, HGTV, Karen Kingsbury novels and Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Be Intentional

January 6
For several days the phrase "Be intentional with your faith," has rung in my mind.  Another side of my brain would counter the thought with the verse "Faith is believing without seeing."  (As if I was trying to convince myself, "Faith just happens.")

Intentional is defined as being done in a way that is planned or intended.
Synonyms are: conscious, deliberate, intended, knowing, purposeful, purposive, set, voluntary, willed, willful, witting. 

What will we do today to knowingly, consciously, deliberately, purposefully, and willfully grow our faith! Wait, we are doing it right now! Praise the Lord!

Opening my emails this morning, I spotted one from a faculty member of the school where my husband works.  At the end of the email was this closing, stating the intentions of Christian Heritage Academy!
At CHA, we're cultivating discerning thinkers, effective communicators, and lifelong learners.

It was such a confirmation for me as to the importance of us being intentional to not only live out our faith, but to live in a way that it grows and flourishes!  In that light I'm digging up some scriptures to munch on today, which relate to the CHA statement.

The kicker to these is to remember, they occur in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit, not our power:

Discerning Thinkers:
Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.   Job 34:4

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.   Proverbs 18:15

Effective Communicators:
Check out the Holy Spirit transformation in Moses, which is documented in scripture.
Moses said to the Lord, "Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."  Exodus 4:10

Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
Acts 7:22

Below is a great confidence builder for all disciples of Christ, when it comes to communicating!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of  the earth.   Acts 1:8

Lifelong Learners
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.   Deuteronomy 11:18-20

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.   Romans 15:4

Being intentional about our time with Jesus today!

H.A.C.K. #1

January 4-5 into life through Hospitality, Acts of Service, Compassion and Kindness!
(A weekend evaluation of how the outward actions of yesterday's verses has a real life application.)

Don't panic that I am promoting a doctrine of works.  God's grace is all salvation takes, but the proof is in the pudding as the fruit of the Spirit flows out of a life lived for Christ.

Reflecting back on this first week of January this morning I  wondered if these things had occurred in my life.
One new person who appeared this week was Daniel, at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.  He helped resolve my computer issues! Such a blessing. Before we began I told him if he could figure out the problems he would be awarded one free weekend at Shiloh!  (I don't think he believed me.)  Hey, that would have fulfilled the offering hospitality.

At first glance, we can feel like failures in light of these categories.  When we allow the Holy Spirit activation privileges in our lives small acts occur which not only qualified, but count in ways we most likely will never know about this side of heaven.

A training twist came into mind as I realized I had been the recipient this week of everyone of these treasures!  God had allowed me to see the impact each of these categories had one my life.  The free compassionate service from The Apple Store made me feel valued. The invitations into others' homes made me feel loved.  The compassion some friends had on me to help me with a service project lightened the load and my husband bestowed kindness on my again and again during this week of his vacation.
Personal experience spurs us on to H.A.C.K. into others lives!

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  1 Peter 4:9

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.  Ephesians 6:7

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Compassion, Kindness, Hospitality, Acts of Service plus 1 New Person

January 3
Taking time for a life evaluation of what might be ahead for 2014, I began to assess where my investments should be.
Thinking of acronyms  S.P.C.A. came to mind.
In light of my spiritual investments it works well as a reminder to apply these elements to my life:
Scripture-Prayer-Church-Allelujahs (praise)

The first step to successful investing is to be certain it is God's will, not mine.  So I've been praying for guidance.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss had these verses on her site today applying to godly women.

…well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints.  1 Timothy 5:10

She asks us to consider if our lives are marked by compassion, sacrifice and acts of service?

to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands…Titus 2:5

teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.   Titus 2:3

What excellent guidelines!  Each week of 2014 I am asking God to direct me in how I can offer compassion to someone (especially my own family), show hospitality to others (and meet a new person each week) and serve my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I asked God for weekends off this year from the devotional.  We haven't worked out an agreement, but maybe it will be an accountability tool and reflection on the previous week to see if I carried out compassion, kindness, hospitality, acts of service and met one new person.


Aleve or Alive

January 2
Listening for the Lord's direction, I was struggling to discern whether the word was Aleve or Alive.
The humanness of my achey morning body was probably leading me towards the Aleve bottle in the kitchen.  Being alive and filled with the Spirit  was more likely the Lord's input.  Hmm, maybe the Spirit was directing me to take an Aleve to feel more alive to follow Him!  :-)  That works.

In the process of cleaning off my desk, I came across a piece of paper, from years ago where I had scribbled these verses.  I'm printing them up on card stock and taping them to my dressing room mirror for the month of January!  The probability is that they will bring relief to my spiritual life in the days to come, as Aleve does to my physical body.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful...Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity.  Colossians 4:2-6

Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:15-16

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.  
2 Timothy 1:7

Our Lives Before God

January 1, 2014
The is something ominous about a new year...the feeling of a clean slate..the excitement of new adventure.  The tradition of making resolutions to things YOU want to change.  The first formal Bible Study I am embarking upon this year is the study of Gideon, who learned the value of marching along side God's plan (as bizarre as it may seem sometimes).
Romans chapter 12 holds a valuable resolution for us..resolving to allow the Holy Spirit in to make the needed changes in our lives.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that  you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.  You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you.  Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing goodness to God.  No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  Romans 12:1-3

Let's Pray:
Lord, You are our all in all. Without You, we have no existence. January 1, 2014 is upon us because of Your choosing, not because of anything we have done.  So, we say, "Thank You for this day...may we live it your way!"  Slow our pace Father, teach us to halt and pray before we march forward into any action; before words fly off our tongues, typing or texts, which can kill and destroy the joy of others.  Mold us into a people who comprehend the power in forgiveness...the essence of why Jesus came.  Give us hearts which see others as valuable and an importance in investing in their lives, not just tossing them aside.  Help us evaluate our time in the eyes of Your worth, not our selfish desires.  Your Kingdom will come on earth, as it is so gloriously established in heaven. May we be found faithful to fulfill the purposes for which You have called us, bringing You glory in all we do.
In Jesus Name, by faith, we say, "Amen!"